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February 2023

Growing the loneliness evidence base

Mapping the landscape and improving practice

Growing the loneliness evidence base
In partnership with

Together with the Campaign to End Loneliness, and funded by DCMS Tackling Loneliness Team, we reviewed the evidence on loneliness alleviation and mapped current practices in the field.

We explored the landscape of interventions designed to tackle loneliness and searched for evidence on their effectiveness.

This new programme builds on our previous work to refine the concept of loneliness, identify gaps in the evidence base, and develop tools to improve the evaluation of interventions.

Objective one: Mapping the Landscape

We carried out qualitative and quantitative research to understand the UK interventions that exist to tackle loneliness by exploring their contexts, and factors that influence their design, implementation and evaluation.

We conducted interviews with experts key informants to map the different types of loneliness interventions and develop a framework to clarify important dimensions in relation to what works, why and how.

We carried out in-depth group interviews to capture the close knowledge of service managers, practitioners and evaluators on loneliness interventions and how they work. A key focus was on practice-based knowledge to understand the active ingredients and mechanisms of success.

Objective two: Reviewing the literature

We conducted a rapid systematic review to bring together the evidence on the effectiveness of loneliness interventions.

We worked with researchers from Kohlrabi Consulting to look at studies in OECD countries published since 2008 that report the effectiveness of programme and pilots aimed at alleviating loneliness.

We searched systematically through grey and published literature to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the effectiveness of interventions aimed at alleviating loneliness in people of all ages across the life-course?
  2. Is there an association between setting/intervention type and the direction and size of effect?
  3. Are there differences in effectiveness across population groups?

Since the learning generated by the Centre’s Review of Reviews (Victor et al, 2018), more recent research has taken an in-depth look at loneliness interventions, focused on specific populations and investigated the mechanisms of success of specific modes of delivery.

We wanted to build on the high-quality work that has already been done in the field – by bringing together some researchers to help quality assure our work and to discuss the existing gaps in the loneliness evidence base. We were particularly interested in identifying studies that:  

  • Report loneliness as a primary or intentional outcome
  • Provide evidence on effects for young and mid-life adults
  • Provide evidence on UK-based interventions 
  • Explore effectiveness of interventions delivered during and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic 

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In this project

September 2023 Full reports
Exploring interventions to tackle loneliness
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September 2023 Briefing
Tackling loneliness interventions
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September 2023 Blog
Five years on: what works to tackle loneliness in research and practice?
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Report by Professor Christina Victor
Tackling loneliness: Review of Reviews
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Report by Professor Louise Mansfield
Loneliness Conceptual Review
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Blog by Ingrid Abreu Scherer
Measuring loneliness: new guidance
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December 2020
Loneliness evidence: gaps and data needs
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Building Connections Fund: Evaluation and Learning
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